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Quality of Life Study Examines Therapies for Lung Cancer; Outcome Suggests Tailoring Therapy for the Elderly

PHILADELPHIA (October 23, 2000) -- A new study shows that age dramatically affects quality of life outcomes for patients undergoing treatment for inoperable lung cancer. This RTOG analysis study was presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass. on October 23 at 3:50 p.m. by Benjamin Movsas, M.D., director of thoracic radiotherapy at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

The study examined 979 patients with locally advanced inoperable non-small cell lung cancer who were enrolled on six prospective RTOG phase II and III studies from 1983 to 1995. The RTOG studies involved a range of treatments including radiation alone, radiation twice daily, radiation and chemotherapy sequentially or concurrently, and radiation twice daily with chemotherapy concurrently.

The impact of age and performance on the treatment outcomes was determined using a well-accepted measure of quality of life called Q-TWiST, a quality-adjusted survival analysis that subtracts from survival the time spent with toxicity and/or relapse, using a variety of weightings.

"As researchers, traditionally we look at survival as a way to measure whether a therapy is effective," explained Movsas. "This study considers the impact of toxicity on quality adjusted survival."

In general, adding chemotherapy to radiation significantly increased the Q-TWiST when compared to radiation alone. Age, however, dramatically altered the findings, limiting the improvement to those under 70 years old. This finding suggests that future studies need to tailor therapy specifically for the elderly population.

Movsas added, "This study isn't designed to be applied to individual cases. There is an intricate balance between improved survival and quality of life. This study gives us a glimpse into a critically important issue for our patients."

Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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